German propaganda poster: a spider with the face of John Bull devours a French soldier at Calais

Maps are as much about art – and lies – as science

29 October 2016 9:00 am

Maps reveal the psychology of their creators as much as they describe topography, says Stephen Bayley

Models wearing the original topless bathing suit by Rudi Gernreich

Is anything vulgar anymore? I wish it were

29 October 2016 9:00 am

To use a vulgar phrase, I can’t get my head around this exhibition. It seems anything but ‘vulgar’. Daintily laid…

Visionary: ‘Battle of Germany’, 1944, by Paul Nash

Wonderfully mellow, rich and strange: Paul Nash at Tate Britain reviewed

29 October 2016 9:00 am

In 1932 Paul Nash posed the question, is it possible to ‘go modern’ and still ‘be British?’ — a conundrum…

Detail from ‘Spring’, 2015, by Tony Cragg

March of the makers: the return of sculpture

29 October 2016 9:00 am

Until earlier this year, a squat sculpture nestled rather unobtrusively outside 20 Manchester Square in Marylebone, an address once made…

‘The beach at Scheveningen’, 1658, by Adriaen van de Velde

The forgotten Dutch artist who was two centuries ahead of his time

29 October 2016 9:00 am

In debates about what should and should not be taught in art school, the subject of survival skills almost never…

‘Portrait of Lee Miller as l’Arlésienne’, 1937, by Pablo Picasso

Was Picasso making fun of the subjects of his portraits?

22 October 2016 9:00 am

As a chat-up line it was at least unusual. On 8 January 1927, a 46-year-old man approached a young woman…

Iranian celestial globe (1362-63), brass inlaid with silver

Muslim magic – Islam has always dabbled in the occult

15 October 2016 9:00 am

Islam has always dabbled in the dark arts, says Justin Marozzi

Hollywood lighting: ‘The Taking of Christ’ (1602) by Caravaggio. Photo: The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Caravaggio blasts everything else off the walls in the National Gallery’s new show

15 October 2016 9:00 am

We don’t know what Caravaggio himself would have made of Beyond Caravaggio, the new exhibition at the National Gallery which…

Part of a horse trapper probably made for Edward III’s court. Photo: RMN-Grand Palais (Musée de Cluny — Musée National du Moyen Âge)/Franck Raux

Embroidery: the great British art form

8 October 2016 9:00 am

For much of the Middle Ages, especially from 1250–1350, ‘English work’ was enormously prized around Europe from Spain to Iceland.…

‘An indefinite, half attained, unimaginable sublimity ...that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to find out what that marvellous painting meant’:
‘Blue Poles’, 1952, by Jackson Pollock

Majestic, exhilarating and overpowering: Royal Academy’s Abstract Expressionism reviewed

1 October 2016 9:00 am

Martin Gayford is dazzled by the scale, majesty and visual power of the Royal Academy’s Abstract Expressionism show

George Cruikshank’s illustration for ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens

Mutton, potatoes and ale – how children ate in the 19th century

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Modern Britain scratches its head over children who are overfed, not underfed, while guilt-ridden mothers stand accused of feeding children…

‘Carcase of an Ox’, by the circle of Rembrandt

Decomposing women, preserved nipples & putrefaction: Flesh at York Art Gallery reviewed

24 September 2016 9:00 am

For a 21st-century gallery, a Victorian collection can be an embarrassment. Tate Modern got around the problem by offloading its…

We, too, are America: children and members of the San Francisco chapter of the National Council of Negro Women at a voter registration motorcade, 1956

How helpful is it for America to have a museum dedicated to African American culture?

24 September 2016 9:00 am

‘A fool’s errand’. That is how Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and…

‘The Sombre Malembo, God of the Crossroads’, 1943, by Wifredo Lam

This large Tate Modern exhibition is cruel to Wifredo Lam

17 September 2016 9:00 am

‘My painting is an act of decolonisation,’ declared Wifredo Lam. These are the first words you read on entering the…

Natural high: John Sebastian’s acoustic set at Woodstock, 1969

A great retro shop with a dreary message: V&A’s You Say You Want a Revolution? reviewed

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Back in the high optimism of the 2008 presidential campaign, one of Barack Obama’s more extravagant hopes was that ‘the…

One of the Maunsell Forts at Red Sands near Whitstable: built during world war two as an anti-aircraft gun tower, it became the home of pirate radio in the 1960s

Estuarial towns are an architectural utopia, says Jonathan Meades

3 September 2016 9:00 am

Estuarial towns are an architectural utopia — and the source of some sublimely weird sights, says Jonathan Meades

‘Apple Blossoms’, 1873, by Charles-François Daubigny

The man who who invented impressionism

23 July 2016 9:00 am

The last boat I saw in the galleries on the Mound was a canoe that the Scottish painter Jock McFadyen…

‘The Deluge’, 1920, by Winifred Knights

Piero della Francesca meets Dalí: Winifred Knights at Dulwich Picture Gallery reviewed

9 July 2016 9:00 am

‘Hidden beauty is best (half seen), faces turned away.’ So noted a young English painter named Winifred Knights in 1924.…

Tate Modern's new Switch House (Photo: Getty)

Not charging for entry has led to the National Gallery resembling Wembley on match day

2 July 2016 9:00 am

Tate Modern’s new Switch House extension in London has been greeted with acclaim. It is a building designed in the…

Birthday card from Frank Auerbach to Lucian Freud

You can tell a lot from the paintings painters owned, as this National Gallery show proves

25 June 2016 8:00 am

‘In the end, nothing goes with anything,’ Lucian Freud remarked one afternoon years ago. ‘It’s your taste that puts things…

‘Babel’, 2001, by Cildo Meireles

It’s time to split the Tate again

18 June 2016 9:00 am

In 1992 I wrote a column that was published under the headline ‘It’s Time to Split the Tate’. To my…

Buried treasure: an archaeologist diver brushes clear a bovid jaw discovered in Aboukir Bay

The treasures of Alexandria revealed: British Museum’s Sunken cities reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

It was not so unusual for someone to turn into a god in Egypt. It happened to the Emperor Hadrian’s…

Switch House, Tate Modern: it’s a strange object, this ziggurat, with its curious, knobbly, loose-weave brick overcoat wrapping awkwardly round the building’s sharp creases

The lifts are lovely: Tate Modern’s extension reviewed

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Tate Modern, badly overcrowded, has built itself a £260 million extension to spread everyone about the place more. This means…

‘Oh god, ma tutto occupato’ (Ach herrje, ma tutto occupato), 2016, by Georg Baselitz

As he approaches 80, the German master Georg Baselitz contemplates the end

21 May 2016 9:00 am

‘In many ways,’ Georg Baselitz muses, ‘I behaved against the grain of the times I grew up in.’ The era…

Satirical diptych, 1520–1530, anonymous Flemish artist

This Parisian exhibition has rewritten the story of art

14 May 2016 9:00 am

Why do we put one work of art beside another? For the most part museums and galleries tend to stick…